What Are Some Common Legal Defenses To DUI Charges?

While being charged with Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) can be unsettling, it’s important for people facing DUI charges to remember that they are considered innocent until proven guilty in the U.S. Justice System.

As a DUI lawyer can explain, DUI charges have been successfully defended in courts in the past.    

Individuals who choose to take their DUI charges to trial may be able to work with a lawyer to defend those charges in court. Here’s a look at some defense techniques that have been used in past DUI cases.               

Potential DUI Defenses              

This is a list of DUI defense strategies that have been used in the past that may or may not be suitable in any given DUI situation.

In any given DUI case, potential DUI defenses depend largely on state laws.

  • Challenge of breath test: Depending on state law, breathalyzer test results may be subject to challenge. Breathalyzer machines measure breath alcohol content and use that measurement to estimate blood alcohol content by using what’s called a partition ratio. While breathalyzer machines use a standard partition ratio for all people, actual partition ratios can vary greatly among people and even within a person. Further, breathalyzer machines must be properly calibrated in order to work as designed. Improper calibrations could be another source of breath test error.                   
  • Challenge of blood tests: Again, state laws determine whether DUI defendants can challenge blood tests and what types of challenges are legally acceptable. In some cases, a defendant may be able to challenge handling of the blood sample (i.e. challenge the process that took it from the defendant’s body to the lab).                    
  • Challenge of field sobriety test: Police officers are required to administer and grade field sobriety tests according to specific guidelines outlined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A field sobriety test that is improperly administered or incorrectly graded may be eligible to be challenged in DUI court.                   
  • Sobriety checkpoint challenges: If a DUI arrest occurred at a sobriety checkpoint, certain legal challenges may be possible. States that permit sobriety checkpoints require that police officers operating these checkpoints follow a number of guidelines before, during and after the checkpoint is active. If checkpoints do not meet legal criteria, a lawyer may move to suppress any DUI evidence collected at the time of arrest.                  
  • Challenge to arrest process: During a DUI arrest, arresting officers are required to recite the so-called Miranda Rights to the person being arrested. These rights outline what a person can and cannot legally do during the arrest and questioning process. If an officer fails to recite these rights, the defendant may have legal grounds to challenge the arrest process.  

Plea Bargains in DUI Cases   

In some situations, a DUI lawyer may suggest that a person enter a plea bargain rather than mount a legal defense for a DUI charge.

Plea bargains may not be available in all DUI cases, but in some situations, they may allow a defendant to plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for less severe penalties than those that would accompany a conviction.             

Defending DUI Charges in Court              

DUI laws are complex and intricate. Each state has its own laws, penalties and procedures in DUI court.

A DUI conviction can have significant legal and financial consequences. In many states, a DUI conviction comes with:

  • Fines
  • Increased insurance rates
  • Jail time
  • Community service
  • License suspension
  • Vehicle suspension, and more.               

Working with a DUI lawyer may help ease the stress of mounting a DUI defense.

A DUI lawyer can advise someone charged with DUI about all aspects of their case, including potential penalties, possible defenses, and potential courtroom strategies.

A DUI lawyer can also work as an advocate for the defendant, ensuring that the criminal justice system offers fair and unbiased treatment during and after the trial.

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